Birch Browsings: 2a John Burroughs Reader

Bill McKibben, Author, John Burroughs, Author, Bill McKibben, Editor Penguin Books $11.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-14-017016-0
John Burroughs, one of America's most accomplished nature writers of the 19th century, has been resurrected in this enlightening, entertaining collection of 15 essays. McKibben ( The End of Nature ) explains how Burroughs helps us appreciate the ``middle kingdom'' that is neither urban nor wild by ``figuring out a language for making others treasure the small spectacles of nature.'' The essays are best read individually, as enthusiastic guides through Burroughs's intimate world. According to him, some scenery may be too grand for daily viewing, and Burroughs suggests that one build a house in ``a more humble and secluded nook.'' An observer of nature, he says, needs more than just the habit of attention: ``You must have the bird in your heart before you can find it in the bush.'' Eagerly offering transliterations of nature's sounds (`` Pthrung, pthrung, '' croaks a frog), Burroughs takes us on trips through the woods, a search for wild honey and an excursion for trout. His favorite companion is ``a dog or a boy, or a person who has the virtues of dogs and boys--transparency, good nature, curiosity, open sense.'' For the reader, Burroughs is such a companion. First serial to the New York Review of Books. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/28/1992
Release date: 10/01/1992
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